Words That Don’t Translate

I have often read that the English vocabulary has more words than any other language. That may or may not be true, but it certainly is a rich mash-up of so many other rich languages. We have a treasure trove of Spanish, French, German, Dutch, and other language borrowings that we use without much thought. But English often lacks the precise word choices to convey nuanced or complex feelings or moods. Such as the Japanese word komorebi above or the Swedish term mångata below.

I recently found a wonderful website called Eunoia: Words That Don’t Translate that offers up hundreds of terms in dozens of languages that often don’t easily translate. If you love language, it’s a marvelously diverting site. Before you know it, you will be casually dropping terms such as:

Friluftsliv “Free air life,” signifying a fundamental understanding of the positive impact of being in nature (Norwegian)


Fremdschämen To be embarrassed by something somebody else did (German)


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3 Responses to Words That Don’t Translate

  1. travtrails says:

    Intersting ….like the Russian word for an irritating person

  2. travtrails says:

    sharing on Facebook

  3. margaret21 says:

    Oh, I’m sharing this! Thanks.

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